May 23, 2007

We've moved beyond garlic powder, no?   {Comments: 1}

Interesting that these two articles on the perfect burger appeared at the same time, and make the same claim that grinding your own burgers is a good idea. Maybe I've been living in a bubble, but I'd never heard this before, and now I'm dying to try it.

May 17, 2007

Like any good geek   {Comments: 0}

Meg Hournihan's Mean Chocolate Chip Cookie is hilarious, taking the whole "wisdom of the crowd" craze to new heights of absurdity -- and ending up with a delicious cookie, apparently.

Rules and rulings   {Comments: 0}

Too bad the Phoenix Suns, all class, lost last night. Bill Simmons had what seems to me a reasonable appraisal of the situation: Applying the rule makes sense, but the rule itself is weak. And isn't this always the case with rules restricting something other than the exact thing they are intended to prevent -- in this case, with a rule punishing you for leaving the bench rather than a rule against fighting? This kind of oblique rule structure always leads to bizarre and unintended circumstances. If Raja Bell was actually involved in the scuffle, how is it that he was not suspended while Stoudemire and Diaw were?

UPDATE: More here from ESPN's various experts. Can I just say how impressed I am with ESPN's NBA coverage, day in and day out? In general I have long felt that the best journalists around are in sports, and these folks are the best around.

May 15, 2007

It all depends on how long you live   {Comments: 0}

Here's an economist making some provocative claims about when you should take your Social Security benefits. I used to work as a claims representative for the Social Security Administration, and while there was no official position on when people should take their benefits, everyone I worked with felt that it was better to take them as early as possible. Part of the benefits application interview was a quick calculation to show the break even point -- the age at which the higher benefit rate for benefits taken later finally catches up with the benefits received early.

And while Kotlikoff makes some interesting claims, it's hard for me to escape this view that you should take your benefits as soon as possible. Americans' inaccurate views about their life expectancies aside, shouldn't we take into account our ability to spend and enjoy our money? Perhaps this kind of advice applies to those who will never need to spend their Social Security checks and will simply pass them on to their children, but in my experience this is a small subset of the population. Many of the people I spoke with as a claims representative needed every penny of that check to get by.

One thing I do like about Kotlikoff is the rational look at what Social Security benefits have to offer as compared with other available investments. There's so much cynicism surrounding Social Security because of its cloudy future, but the reason it will drive us to the edge of bankruptcy (or beyond) later this century is that it's such a great benefit, and one that people are generally very happy with when they eventually get it.